Work-related Asthma

According to the American Thoracic Society, 15% of asthma in adults is caused or exacerbated by work. It is estimated that approximately 27,000 adults in Massachusetts have work-related asthma. Since 1993 physicians have been required to report both suspected and confirmed cases of work-related asthma to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). In 2003 the Massachusetts public health regulations were expanded to include all health care providers as mandated reporters. Health care providers report patient demographics, employer name, type of industry, occupation, and suspected exposure for each case of work-related asthma. Work-related asthma cases are also identified from hospital records. OHSP conducts follow-up telephone interviews with cases reported to obtain more information about exposures. Data are used to characterize the distribution of work-related asthma in the state and to target intervention efforts. The project is supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health through the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR) program. Massachusetts is one of four states with SENSOR Asthma projects. Several articles combing data from all four states are available.

This information is provided by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program within the Department of Public Health.